Monday, February 24, 2014

People, places and things I like.

Sometime I think about the things and people that have made me laugh or entertained me. I think about what has made my life worth living. Maybe, it's the influence of social media on me, even at my age. You know. The "I'm having cornbread and drinking Pepsi tonight" Then 10 people hit the like button. :-) Well, maybe not in my case. I'm not even that popular in cyber space. But, some people... well you know who you are. Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;-) But, anyway here is some of what I have "liked" in my journey through this land...

Religion: Surprised? Well, even though I'm skeptical of religion these days. The one size fits all and God'll get ya for that type. I have found great strength in faith through the years. I know the thing to say (I say it a lot) is I"m not religious, I'm spiritual. But, somewhere in my mind I know I'm religious. I'm not dogmatic and I'm not sure of the 'mind of God" but I still think somehow that it matters how I live and what I do...Anyway, if not for religion then I might not have ever thought of being spiritual. So, religion for better or worse gets on my list of things I mostly like.

The Bible: I may not "believe" in the inerrancy of it. But, I have found great strength in passages and hope in verses that have gotten me through and still get me through tough or difficult times.

Rock and Roll: Grew up on it. Lived some of the lyrics of it. I also like Motown. I have told my wife (and I'm not kidding) that I would love to have "Midnight Train to Georgia" playing at my funeral. The original with Gladys Knight and the Pips. Here is a list of my favorites as I grew up:

Eagles: My all time favorite band. Knew every lyric on every album. Certain scenes and certain people would and will always flash across my mind when I hear the songs.

Stevie Nicks: Dreams, Silver Springs, Landslide, Highway Man, Rhiannon.

Linda Ronstadt: Long, Long Time, Faithless Love, Willing (cover of Little Feat)

Styx: Grand Illusion. Nuff said

Queen: New of the World. See above "nuff said."

Doctor Hook
Foghat: Slow Ride!
Pure Prairie League
Rolling Stones
I know I'm leaving out several but this is just a quick list.

Favorite albums:
Rumors: Fleetwood Mac
Hotel California: Eagles
One of These Nights: Eagles
News of the World: Queen
Heart Like a Wheel: Linda Ronstadt
Belladonna: Stevie Nicks
The Grand Illusion: Styx

Alabama Crimson Tide: Born and raised. The sight of the Crimson Jersey is a part of my life. Grew up on Bear Bryant and  the wishbone.

Atlanta Braves: "Our team" I get irritated when I hear some sports person on the radio say "Alabama doesn't have a pro sports team." Hey, bud we aren't out in the middle of nowhere. I grew up in Gadsden, Alabama and we drove over to Atlanta pretty often.

GreenBay Packers: I grew up watching Bart Starr and Paul Horning and became a Packer fan.

Cleveland Indians/Browns: I had some family in Cleveland and some of the first pro teams I thought of were the Indians and the Browns. Also, my mother was pregnant with me in Cleveland so maybe I have a slight connection even in my southern blood.

Country music: I hated it as a child. My mother sang it and my step dad played it and I hated it. But, as I got older I started to really listen. Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash and of course Willie Nelson...Yeah, it's OK at least sometime.

Books: I've often said that I don't see how a person that doesn't read has a worldview at all. But, I've known some smart folks that don't read so who knows. I read comics and I still remember reading the Dick and Jane books from my elementary school. I also loved the scary stories and ghost stories ordered from my Weekly Reader. That being said:

Stephen King: I first read Stephen King when I picked up a copy of Salems Lot in the Gadsden Mall. The clerk said there was this new writer and some people  thought he was going to be pretty good. I always thought the small town Maine and New England of his books were a lot like the small town Alabama and south of my youth. I read and have read many writers and books. Both fiction and non fiction. I would never limit myself to just one author. But, if I had to go to an island and have only one writer I could read it would be Stephen King.

I also like Chocolate, Butter beans, Cornbread and Sweet tea. Ham and eggs and coffee. I like Hawaii and I like Buddhism.  I like Christianity and I like agnostics. I don't like atheism because I think it's a complete lack of hope but I like not being a slave to religion. I like blonde haired women and I like bar b que. I like coke as in Coca Cola, not drug and I like Pepsi. I like Mountain Dew and I like movies.

Haunting of Hill House (original 1960's version)
Hang em High
Pale Rider
Good the Bad and the Ugly
The Rose
Good Fellows


Mary Tyler Moore
Bob Newhart (both shows)
Mork and Mindy
Hill Street Blues
Ripper Street
Walking Dead
House of Cards
The list could go on and on

Sports or games I would love to see:

See a baseball game at Yankee Stadium
See the Packers at Lambeau Field

This is by no means a list of everything I love or cherish. I thought of so many people that I love, miss and long to see. But, this is a light hearted list of "stuff I like" It's not everything I like but it's a fun list to start with. :-)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Talking with God.

I've had an inner dialog as long as I can remember. I am the observer. I am. I have been challenged by atheist to "define god." I've been challenged by fundamentalist about how I can pick and choose which bible verses are relevant and which are not. It's all the same book. Well, actually it's not. But, to the first argument. A definition of "god" that would assign gender, emotions, reaction and "waiting" on a decision from another being would not be god with a big G. It would be god with a little g. Superman, as it were.

The best definition of god I have ever heard is in the Old Testament. God answering Moses. Who are you Lord? I AM! That's why religious people were so angry at Christ when he made the same type statement. I am is also a good definition of "me."  Did he just say he was "god." No, I didn't. But, I did say that I am pure being. The dance of Spirit and matter. Consciousness. One aspect of the eternal. As for the other statement of how can I pick and choose out of the "same book." Well, it's not "one book" for one thing. Many people in a search for God and some in a search for reason and even politics wrote many things over the years. Rabbi's passed word of mouth and generations came to hold a community image of who they were/are. The folks with funny hats (the ones that certain fundamentalist call the false church today) met and debated and included and excluded which writings were "inspired" and which were not. Anyway, I didn't do this blog to start a fight or lose life long friends. I simply do this blog to put my thoughts out there and if it resonates with another person then wonderful. If it causes another person to point me to wisdom then that is wonderful. But, I mainly do it to continue my own inner dialog and as a release valve for my own thoughts and questions. I don't do it to make other people mad or attack the faith of my youth or to fight with an atheist.

Anyway, talking with God. We talk about many things and I even manage (though not often) to listen. I have come to a place where I see the divine in all things. The way a mother looks at a child. The way a beggar looks at people passing by on the sidewalk. The way a scientist looks through a telescope and the way a preacher studies scripture and the way a Buddhist meditates. But, I also see "God" in a personal way.

I have a story that goes back to my childhood. I have told it often and maybe even somewhere on other blog post. But, it does illustrate a point in my personal journey:

I grew up in Gadsden, Alabama in the part called Alabama City, in the neighborhood called Walnut Park. There was a church bus that came through the neighborhood from a local church called Cherry Street Baptist in Attalla, Alabama. My sister and I along with other kids would pile on and go to church. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY does youth church like the Southern Baptist. ;-) My mother was raised in the Church of God of Prophecy and my step dad had not real religious affiliation (neither did my mother by this time.) So, we rode the bus. The preacher was a good man with a wonderful family and the following is by no means an indictment of the church, the people or the pastor. It's just the feeling of a 12 to 13 year old child in the late sixties to early seventies in a southern church. Also, I was a rather "serious" kid when it came to God, and I may have been a little too serious but that's another story. This one started me on a life long dialog within my own sanctuary. So, here goes:

 The pastor had talked about sin and redemption and the youth were in attendance. He talked about how forgiving God was through Christ and the importance of prayer and asking for forgiveness of sin. But, he said one thing that my active imagination quickly ran away with. he said that all sin can be forgiven except the sin of blasphemy against the "Holy Ghost." Now remember I said my mother had been raised in the Church of God of Prophecy? Well, my grandmother who helped raise me was a devout member of that church. The Holy Ghost was no joke and no laughing matter to be taken lightly in a pentecostal church. He was a very stern figure that read your mind and knew all the things you did and you didn't want to insult him. So, when the preacher said "Holy Ghost" my ears pricked up at least internally. I was under immediate assault mentally, emotionally and spiritually. After all imagine trying not to think of a pink elephant. What is the first thing you think of? So, you can see my dilemma. I was certainly going to hell because the worst thoughts in the world were going through my little mind.

The above is also why I don't take sanity or mental health for granted. That could have been the start of a life long mental problem and I'm not joking. But, a wonderful thing happened. Now some will say I'm pumping up a natural process of my brain. Some will say I am remembering what I want to  remember. Some will say "God was striving with me but I'm still not  theologically correct and still in danger" All I know for sure is that the very foundation, the very source of my being brought sanity to me and I am lifelong and eternally thankful. Here is how it happened.

I was in my backyard telling the Holy Ghost that I really didn't mean all those bad thoughts. Then a calm thought came to me. "I'm not a fortune teller." "I don't look into your mind from outside and get mad and judge you." "I am your maker, not somebody looking in from outside." Then I saw a room and a couch and a door. I then heard "Sit here and I'll get the door." "They are calling my name and not your name." So, every time you worry or have a thought that is harmful just sit here." I'll get the door."

The one who I dialog with has been getting the door ever since.